We sat down with Raphael Bostic, HUD’s assistant secretary for Policy Development & Research in a substantive interview slated for publication in the Summer issue of Shelterforce, but people attending the National Low Income Housing Coalitions annual policy conference were able to get the perspective of the former professor at USC’s School of Planning, Policy, and Development as PD&R steps into a prominent role at HUD, and within the administration overall.
PD&R, the internal evaluator for HUD, conducts and examines broader research in the community, tests it, and tries to get it integrated into policy, but, much like HUD under the Bush administration, PD&R had become largely stagnant. In fact, Bostic said, it atrophied.
“Good people were let go during those years, but now there’s a different discourse around building teams and taking on new challenges,” he said, adding that “PD&R has been asked to be involved in nearly every decision that HUD has made.”
Bostic laid out five ideals of the revamped PD&R:
- Heal the broader economy and the housing market
- Rental Housing: enhance markets and ensure an adequate supply of affordable homes
- End Homelessness Completely
- Housing as a platform: “there is something about housing that is related to just about every other aspect of life,” Bostic said, pointing to health care, education, jobs, job training, criminal justice and special needs.
- Investing in inclusive and sustainable communities
The result, Bostic said, would provide a platform for “transforming how HUD does business,” and this is where he started to get frank:
“Our history of providing services has been spotty and we have a commitment to change that, as well as being more open and transparent. We need to be more responsive with resources that we get to make sure our systems work, are up to date, and result in sophisticate analysis
“This will be our farthest reaching goal, because it will take us to the core of department’s mission. Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen a real shift toward the investment function of housing. I mean, flipping houses used to be considered ‘predatory’ and it’s gotten us to a place where it’s out of balance.
Finally, Bostic said PD&R needs to arrive at “a place where we have the resources to do significant research,” adding that the housing bubble and the subsequent economic crisis has been a “painful lesson in getting into homeownership. It’s OK to be a renter.”